With winter quickly approaching it’s only natural to start reaching for hearty red wines as your dinner drink of choice. Notes of baking spices, nuts and apples waft through the air this time of year and it’s understandable that we want our wines to reflect those flavors. But does that mean we have to give up our beloved rosés until next summer? With white jean season over I turned to wine experts Mary McAuley of Ripe Life Wines and Conor McCormack of Brooklyn Winery to get their tips on the wines to drink right now.
How to Choose Wine for a Holiday Meal
First things first, while some people may say whites are only for summer there’s really no such things as an off-limits wine.
“It’s always a personal preference and you can and should drink whatever you feel like,” McCormack said.
Before you start uncorking that bottle of rosé though, remember that all good things come with rules. In the fall and winter you want to drink whites and rosés at the appropriate cellar temperature rather than totally refrigerated.
“Serving wines too chilled masks a lot of wonderful nuances—something we love about savoring red wines,” McAuley said.
With the temperatures dropping look for rosés and whites that are heavier in body than your summer wine, but slightly chilled. Anything aged in American oak is going to get vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg flavors, whereas French oak imparts more woods-y notes.
“You will probably have to spend a bit more money to get one that is truly at its best served at about 55 degrees,” McAuley said. “I notice that my go-to price-point for whites and rosés in the summer is about $15-20, but closer to $25 in the fall and winter. You need to be pickier if you’re going to consume a wine at cellar temperature, but it’s quite lovely to experience, especially with enough crisp in the air!”
Pinot Noirs are most people’s go-to sipper this time of year, but there are plenty of lighter reds that are really great fall/winter drinks. Barabera is one that works as a great transition wine and sets you up for the darker reds to come. Other medium-bodied reds that work well as transitional wines include Frappato and Tempranillo. The small amount of oak in a Tempranillo gives it structure with a distinct aroma of fall leaves or woodsiness.
“I like to match the intensity of the weather to the wine I’m drinking,” McCormack said. “A dry style port is nice to sip next to the fireplace on a cold day.”
McAuley’s wines to drink right now: Ripe Life Wines’ Limited Edition 2013 Clambake Rosé, Tempranillo, Frappato, Sangiovese, Gamay, Barabera and of course, Pinot Noir.
McCormack’s: BK Winery’s cabernet sauvignon from Sonoma 2012, a yet to be released malbec, Rosé of Cabernet and Pinot Noir 2012.